Top 20 Recipes Under $20 Dollars


Top 20 Recession Recipes Under $20 – This roundup of family and budget-friendly recipes includes ideas for satisfying dishes that are just the right balance of cheap, easy, and delicious!

Cheap Recipes under $20 - Macaroni Bake with cheese

The Best Recession-Proof Recipes

Whether you are pinching pennies or looking for simple and inexpensive recipes to add to your routine, this roundup of cheap dinner ideas is great for your weekly meal plans and budget!

Here we share our top 20 recipes for dishes that are under $20 and prepare at least 4-6 servings. From quick one-pan meals to comforting bakes and your favorite retro casseroles, you are sure to find several recipes that the whole family will love!

We’ve listed our favorites below, with the number of servings and approximate cooking times for each recipe. Note that the total recipe price will vary depending on specific brands and where you purchase groceries, but this should give you a good idea of the expected cost (before tax).

Drumroll for our best cheap dinner ideas…

Cheap Easy Dinner Ideas under $20

1. One Pot Spaghetti Carbonara

Recipe Cost – $11.30

Servings – 6

Total Prep and Cook Time – 25 minutes

One Pot Spaghetti Carbonara is a creamy and cozy budget-friendly dinner recipe that tastes unbelievably luxurious. This pasta dish offers comfort like no other, with bacon, silky carbonara sauce, and fresh strands of pasta!

Perfect One Pot Spaghetti Carbonara - Cheap Dinner Ideas

2. Chicken Kiev

Recipe Cost – $11.46

Servings – 4

Total Prep and Cook Time – 25 minutes

This stuffed pan-fried Chicken Kiev recipe is a simplified and less expensive – but still wonderfully decadent – version of everyone’s favorite buttery stuffed chicken dinner dish. Serve it with potatoes or rice and a simple green salad.

chicken kiev - budget dinner ideas

3. Retro French Chicken

Recipe Cost – $11.85

Servings – 4

Total Prep and Cook Time – 35 minutes

Retro French Chicken is a classic cheap and easy dinner recipe for saucy, bright, and savory oven-baked lemon garlic French chicken breasts. Ready in just over 30 minutes, it’s perfect to serve with equally budget-friendly fluffy mashed potatoes!

Cheap Dinner Ideas - Retro french chicken breast: one of top 20 budget friendly recession recipes.

4. Mexican Breakfast Casserole

Recipe Cost – $13.12

Servings – 8

Total Prep and Cook Time – 40 minutes

Mexican Breakfast Casserole is an easy make-ahead recipe that’s perfect for weekends and potlucks! Loaded with inexpensive spicy sausage, eggs, veggies, and cheese, you’ll love the zesty Mexican flavors in this gluten-free breakfast casserole.

Mexican casserole - Cheap easy dinner ideas

5. Best Homemade Lasagna

Recipe Cost – $13.34

Servings – 12

Total Prep and Cook Time – 1 hour

You just can’t beat a Classic Homemade Lasagna recipe layered with piles of noodles, meat, and cheese. This rich and zesty sausage lasagna is a family tradition with a surprise (and cheap!) ingredient no one can resist! Try it with homemade garlic bread and Caesar salad.

Best Lasagna Recipe Ever - inexpensive dinner recipes

6. Country Fried Steak

Recipe Cost – $13.44

Servings – 8

Total Prep and Cook Time – 30 minutes

The perfect crispy Chicken Fried Steak (AKA Country Fried Steak) with thick white peppery gravy is made Oklahoma-style! You’ll love how surprisingly cheap it is to make this classic diner recipe at home. Mashed potatoes on the side are traditional.

Easy Chicken Fried Steak Recipe - cheap dinner ideas

7. Mac and Cheese Pizza

Recipe Cost – $14.24

Servings – 6

Total Prep and Cook Time – 35 minutes

Mac and Cheese Pizza is a kid-friendly and budget-friendly recipe the whole family will love. It’s made with roll-out dough and boxed macaroni for a quick, easy, delicious, and FUN dinner!

Macaroni and Cheese Pizza of dinner

8. Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie

Recipe Cost – $14.97

Servings – 8

Total Prep and Cook Time – 4 hours 45 minutes

Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits is a slow cooker soup version of your favorite classic Chicken Pot Pie recipe. It’s a set-and-forget easy dinner idea with a cheap and quick canned biscuit topping.

Crock pot chicken pot pie soup - budget dinner ideas

9. Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Recipe Cost – $15.75

Servings – 8

Total Prep and Cook Time – 50 minutes

Easy Loaded Baked Potato Soup features your favorite baked potato toppings like cheese and bacon. This rich and creamy classic potato soup recipe is inexpensive and wonderfully simple to make in the crock pot or on the stovetop!

Bowl of loaded baked potato soup in a white bowl.

10. Garlic Butter Chicken Potatoes

Recipe Cost – $16.48

Servings – 6

Total Prep and Cook Time – 4 hours 10 minutes

This Slow Cooker Garlic Butter Chicken and Potatoes recipe makes an easy dinner with rich cozy flavor, but takes minimum effort and little cash to prepare. Pair with a side of green beans!

Slow cooker garlic butter chicken is a great top 20 recipes under $20.

11. Mexican Chicken Fried Rice

Recipe Cost – $17.10

Servings – 6

Total Prep and Cook Time – 30 minutes

Mexican-Style Fried Rice is a fun and delicious twist on traditional (and also pretty cheap) chicken fried rice with egg. This easy and inexpensive recipe features black beans, corn, and your favorite Tex-Mex spices.

Mexican chicken fried rice in a skillet.

12. Supreme Pizza Baked Ziti

Recipe Cost – $17.91

Servings – 8

Total Prep and Cook Time – 50 minutes

This Supreme Pizza Baked Ziti recipe combines two family favorites rolled into one cost-effective dish. This easy baked ziti (or baked penne) is a staple at our house!

Love this Supreme Pizza Baked Ziti Recipe

13. Buffalo Chicken Casserole (Chicken and Rice)

Recipe Cost – $18.14

Servings – 8

Total Prep and Cook Time – 35 minutes

One-pan Buffalo Chicken Casserole is a zesty skillet chicken recipe loaded with cheesy rice, buffalo sauce, and blue cheese. This affordable baked chicken and rice casserole is as exciting as it is comforting!

Buffalo chicken casserole recession budget friendly recipe.

14. Italian Ground Beef and Potatoes

Recipe Cost – $18.37

Servings – 6

Total Prep and Cook Time – 35 minutes

Italian Ground Beef and Potatoes is a hash-style dish with tomatoes that’s quick and easy to make in one pan. It’s one of the best recipes for a super hearty, comforting, and delicious family-friendly weeknight meal that won’t break the bank!

Ground beef and potatoes, topped with shredded parmesan cheese in a skillet.

15. Nana’s Best Meat Sauce with Spaghetti

Recipe Cost – $18.54

Servings – 12

Total Prep and Cook Time – 1 hour 12 minutes

Nana’s Best Meat Sauce is zesty, savory, and terrifically meaty! Make this classic homemade Italian meat sauce recipe for the cheap, and enjoy with budget-friendly pasta and much more.

Budget friendly plate of spaghetti with meat sauce.

16. Hawaiian Spam Fried Rice

Recipe Cost – $18.88

Servings – 6

Total Prep and Cook Time – 38 minutes

This easy Asian-inspired Hawaiian Spam Fried Rice recipe features salty and savory (and notoriously cheap!) Spam, veggies, and fresh kimchi for an addictively flavorful dish. By far one of our favorite budget dinner ideas for a busy weeknight!

Kimchi Fried Rice - overhead shot for budget meals

17. Slow Cooker Chicken Broccoli Lasagna

Recipe Cost – $19.15

Servings – 8

Total Prep and Cook Time – 3 hours 15 minutes

Cozy Chicken Broccoli Slow Cooker Lasagna is equally delicious, easy, and affordable! Simply whisk up a quick cream sauce then layer pasta sheets, chicken, fresh broccoli florets, and cheese in a crock pot just as you would in a casserole dish.

Comforting Chicken Broccoli Slow Cooker Lasagna

18. One-Pot American Goulash

Recipe Cost – $19.24

Servings – 6

Total Prep and Cook Time – 35 minutes

American Beef Goulash is a classic one-skillet dish that everyone loves! This easy goulash recipe is made with a hearty tomato sauce and basic budget-friendly pantry staples.

American Goulash - with cheese

19. Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

Recipe Cost – $19.31

Servings – 12

Total Prep and Cook Time – 1 hour 10 minutes

This easy Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole recipe is made with inexpensive frozen tater tots, sausage, eggs, and cheese. It’s great to make ahead and bakes cheesy golden delicious in under an hour!

Slice of tater tot casserole on a white plate, full casserole in the background.

20. Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Sausage

Recipe Cost – $19.98

Servings – 12

Total Prep and Cook Time – 1 hour 12 minutes

Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Sausage is a comforting, cheesy, and delicious classic dish that no one can resist! This easy recipe is great to make ahead for under $20 and enjoy for several meals throughout the week.

Ricotta Baked Ziti with Sausage Recipe

Which of these 20 easy and cheap dinner ideas are you going to try first?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below… We’d love to hear from you!

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